Opponents of the direct primary method announced by the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress have started mobilising state chairmen and other stakeholders to resist moves to foist the method on the states.
Towards this end, some party stakeholders including state APC chairmen and some members of the NWC converged on the Barcelona Hotel, Abuja, on Sunday, to fashion out the best way to confront the issue.
The Punch reports that stakeholders, who held their meeting in secret, earlier planned to meet at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, but quickly dispersed and regrouped at the Barcelona Hotel when their initial location leaked to the party hierarchy hours before the scheduled meeting.
The party’s National Working Committee had in a statement signed by the acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, earlier in the day, said the attention of the party leadership was drawn to “the illegal” meeting.
He said, “We want to state clearly that the meeting which has been fixed for 2 pm (on Sunday) is illegal and an attempt to puncture the sincere efforts being made by the Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC to reposition our party ahead of the 2019 general elections and to ensure unity, equity and justice in the party.
“The outcome of such meeting which is already known will be a nullity and we admonish our members to disregard such meetings in the interest of the party. It is illegal to call such meeting outside the purview of the constituted authority.
“The identities of those plotting such meetings have been identified and unless they desist from such they will be dealt with in line with the APC constitution at the appropriate time.
“The APC will resist any attempt to disrupt the current peace and harmony prevailing in our great party after the exit of some members of our party.”
It urged party members who had grievances over decisions taken by the party to use the appropriate party organs and channels to register their displeasure.
The Punch gathered that the state party chairmen under the auspices of the APC state chairmen forum with the active support of governors opposed to the direct primary directive are weighing their options.
A source privy to deliberations at the abridged meeting of the group said, “Consultations are still ongoing. We are party members who want the best for our party. We will take this matter (mode of primaries) up with the NWC because the decision of the National Executive Committee was what governors Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Yahaya Bello (Kogi) told your colleagues on Thursday.”
Asked if a decision had been reached, the source said, “No. We are still consulting that is why we can’t talk to the media just yet.”
The APC National Vice-Chairman North-East, Mustapha Salihu, had dismissed reports that the party’s NWC had agreed to recommend the direct primary method to the party’s caucus and NEC.
A clarification issued by the APC NWC on Friday “clarified” that the mode of the party’s primary pitted the party leadership against a section of its members.
“The party’s spokesperson, Yekini Nabena, who issued the clarification on behalf of the NWC, said contrary to reports restricting the direct primaries to the presidential ticket, the decision was to cover all elections.
However, the APC National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni, told the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation in an interview on Saturday that the direct primary would only affect those aspiring for the party’s presidential ticket.